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guage as Jeremiah : “I will set up one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God: and My servant David a prince among them : I, the Lord, have spoken it.” And Zechariah: “Thus saith the Lord, I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the holy mountain ?." And the prophet Isaiah again : “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel : I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth ; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff 3.” And again : “For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name
Now, first, that these and a number of other prophecies which speak still more distinctly of a conquest, a kingdom, a body politic, a ritual, and a law, are fulfilled in the Dispensation under which we live, which immediately succeeded upon the Jewish, not in one future and disconnected, is plain from the express asser
1 Ezek. xxxiv. 23.
Isa. xli. 14, 15.
Zech. viii. 3.
tions of inspired persons. Such as the Apostle St. James in the Acts, who, after declaring with St. Peter, “how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name,” adds, “to this agree the words of the Prophets, as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." You see that, according to the Apostle, at that very time the fulfilment of the prophecy was commencing; the reconstruction of the kingdom of David was no future and detached event, it was then in progress; it was coming to pass in the conversion of the heathen. What confirms this view of the subject is, that it serves an explanation of the strong language of Moses, in which the perpetual obligation of the Law is asserted, in spite of inducements of whatever kind to abandon it. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it;" for the Gospel was but a development of the Law. “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” “If ye shall diligently keep all these commandments, then shall no man be able to stand before you.” And after punishment, return of prosperity was promised them, on condition of their returning to the Law. “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are
come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto His voice, ... He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, which He sware unto them "." The latter days are mentioned, yet without a hint that obedience to the Law was to be relaxed, which holds only on the principle that the Gospel is its continuation.
And, on the other hand, it is no mere figurative sense in which such words as "power,” “
'power," " kingdom," “rule,” “conquest," "princes," "judges," "officers, and the like are used (as if the promised dominion were to be but moral, the promised Church invisible, the promised reign of Christ but spiritual), for this simple reason, that there has been, in matter of fact, in Christian times a visible Church, a temporal kingdom, a succession of rulers, such as the prophecies do describe ; which have been most variously and minutely fulfilled in their literal sense; and we know, in such cases, what has been laid down by a great authority in our Church, _“I hold it,” he says, "for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst "." Indeed, these figurative interpretations have given special occasion to the infidel to scoff against the Bible, as if the prophecies had failed even by the confession of their friends, who, to hide their failure, are forced to pretend that they never were intended to have a literal fulfilment, only a spiritual one.
i Deut. iv. 2. 30; vi. 7; xi, 22–25.
Hookar, Eccles. Pol. v. 59. § 2.
History indeed shows their fulfilment, but we enable him to deny it.
Temporal, then, as well as spiritual greatness, a visible dominion as well as a secret influence, was both, under the Law, promised to the Church in the future, and according to the promise has already come to pass in Gospel times. And now I will observe upon one or two difficulties, which at first may be felt in receiving a view of God's dealings with His Church, which in itself is most simple and satisfactory.
1. First, it may be said that the prophecies have not been, and never will be, fulfilled in the letter, because they contain expressions and statements which do not admit, or certainly have not, a literal meaning. Thus, in one of the passages just now quoted, it is said that David shall feed the chosen people. Now, by David, cannot be meant any one but Christ; that is, the prophecy is figurative; for if one part is not literal, why should another be? Again, it is said that “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings”;" and "behold I will bring forth My Servant the Branch ?;" and again, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid'.” Again, “I will write My law in their hearts.” The fulfilment of the prophecy then is either spiritual, or, where it admits of being taken literally, it is future.
Now this objection is surely not well grounded, and presents no real difficulty at all, as a very slight consideration will show us; for it stands to reason that the use of figures in a composition is not enough to make it 1 Mal. iv. 2. i Zech. ii. 8.
3 182. xi. 6.
figurative as a whole. We constantly use figures of speech whenever we speak; yet who will say on that account that the main course of our conversation is not to be taken literally? We talk of a cutting wind and a threatening sky, without meaning that literally the sky is able to threaten, or the wind to cut; yet, in spite of these figures, we mean what we say, as to the general run and drift of our sentences.
One of the two disciples said that their heart“ burnt” within them, as our Lord talked to them; are we not literally to understand that He conversed with them, because their heart did not. literally burn? St. Paul calls the Church “the pillar and ground of the truth;" is Church not literal, and truth not literal, because pillar is not literal ? And in like manner we speak of the Christian minister as a pastor, and his charge as his flock; yet without any intention to be allegorical or poetical.
Again, to take another class of instances, St. Peter calls Rome Babylon; does that make his epistle an allegory? our Lord calls Herod “ that fox;" does this show that His whole speech is a figure, and that He did not mean in a literal sense, what He said, that He was casting out devils and doing cures, and that "no prophet could perish out of Jerusalem ”? And again, when He calls Simon by the name of Peter or Rock, what is this more than giving him a name? Peter, which is in its origin a figure, becomes a mere proper
And so when He Himself is called a Lamb, this is but His sacred Name, taken from His gracious office; and when St. John Baptist said, " Behold the Lamb of